In the past few days, there have been a number of news articles and social media posts alleging that Dahua marketed products with features that allow for the detection of individuals based on their race or ethnicity. Dahua has issued a statement, explaining why these allegations are not factually correct and reiterating our position and principles on facial recognition technology.
Over the past few years, we have developed a comprehensive ethical compliance management and control system to ensure that our technical capabilities are applied in an ethical manner, to live out our mission of making “society safer and life smarter” through technology. As part of this control system, Dahua has continued to conduct internal trainings across the company to ensure our technical capabilities are prohibited from being used for any form of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, race, culture, religion, or other identity markers. We have also set up controls to ensure any problems related to facial recognition are promptly identified and addressed.
Like many tech companies around the world, our understanding of the legal and ethical implications of our technology has evolved over time. As facial recognition technology has been widely commercialized by many tech companies around the world, we have seen the value that this technology can provide to increasing efficiency, making management smarter, and making society safer. Namely, facial recognition technology can help reduce crime rates and be used for broad public welfare purposes. We understand very well the concerns from various stakeholders about whether our technologies are used in an ethical manner. We take our responsibility seriously: Dahua has always complied with the laws and regulations in all the countries and markets where we operate and has established strict ethical compliance rules and controls.
At Dahua, we believe that facial recognition technology can be categorized into two distinct sets:
The first is technology for recognizing generic features. This technology defines certain concepts – for example, eyeglasses in the case of facial recognition or motorcycle in the case of vehicle recognition – and enables the software to accurately describe whether those objects are present in a video image.
This type of generic object or feature recognition capability is widely accepted across industries. It is playing an increasingly vital role in alleviating traffic congestion, improving road safety, increasing travel efficiency, reducing mortality, facilitating industrial production, protecting ecology and biodiversity, and contributing to the sustainable development of human and nature. Dahua has been actively developing our capabilities in this space. We believe progress in this type of technology can make security systems more accurate, effective, and smarter.
The second type of recognition technology involves efforts to map a certain feature or set of features within a system whose objective is to infer spatial situation, human behavior, and attributes of an individual that are associated with that mapping. Such technology brings great value when it comes to contactless access, mobile phone unlocking, secure payment, safe driving, industrial production and etc. Collecting features such as skin color, ethnicity or other attributes related to a person’s identity, in theory, could promote the general applicability, accuracy and efficiency of artificial intelligence technology. To advance positive understandings of this technology, our engineers did conduct related research in the past.
In the past few years, the rapid development of a new generation of digital technology has spurred the progress of our global society. However, the potential for misuse of said new technologies, like facial recognition and big data, has sparked a global debate and raised ethical standards for global companies. Like other tech companies, we have been focused on properly bridging the line between the application of new technologies and ethical compliance, establishing our position to always put ethical and legal compliance first. As a result, at Dahua, we have never provided this second type of technology in any of our products or services to any customer for the purpose of racial or ethnic identification. We do not build systems that single out particular ethnicities or target a particular race.
In response to recent events, we need to further strengthen our efforts to fully convey our stance on facial recognition to all Dahua employees, partners, and other stakeholders. We have now conducted a comprehensive review of our marketing materials, websites, and other content channels to ensure our position is accurately conveyed. At the same time, we plan to carry out more frequent trainings across the company, incorporate ethical compliance requirements into performance reviews for Dahua employees, and execute penalties for employees who violate relevant company policies.
Our goal has always been for Dahua solutions to serve the purpose of creating a safer, smarter, and fairer world. We reiterate once again: Dahua has never and will never provide or sell any technology, product or service targeting a specific racial or ethnic group.
Going forward, we will continue to bolster our ethical compliance control system and uphold our commitment to work together globally with customers, industry players, NGOs and other stakeholders, ensuring that our current and future technologies are in line with our standards of ethical and legal compliance.